‘The Next Step’ offers a next step in career and sisterhood

Kate and Emily Roman. Photo courtesy of Roman.
Kate and Emily Roman. Photo courtesy of Roman.

What is a TV show you grew up watching, dreaming of being on someday? For Emily and Kate Roman, that show was The Next Step, a drama about a dance troupe preparing for their upcoming competitions.

They were like most young dancers, going to school all day and training at their studio, Canadian Dance Company, all evening. When The Next Step premiered on the Family Channel in 2013, they were hooked. Not only could they relate to the show and its characters, but some of their teammates from their home studio were selected to be part of the original cast.

Kate and Emily Roman on 'The Next Step.'
Kate and Emily Roman on ‘The Next Step.’

“We would be at competitions with them and then they would be rushing off to go film,” Emily shares with Dance Informa. “I remember that year so vividly of season one coming out, visualizing that maybe one day I would get to audition. Maybe the show would go on long enough for me to be on it one day.”

The show not only continued to air, recently wrapping season nine, but it has grown and airs all over the world.

The sisters continued working and growing in their craft, including auditioning for The Next Step. Emily was the first to get the call with an opportunity to join the show dancing with J-Troupe as the character Presley.

“When we saw the set for the first time, it felt like we were sucked into the TV we grew up watching the show on. It’s really surreal,” Emily shares. “Walking onto a set with all of those memories and being a fan, having all of that history, makes the experience so much more meaningful.”

Kate and Emily Roman on set for 'The Next Step.'
Kate and Emily Roman on set for ‘The Next Step.’

Over the course of filming, Emily has enjoyed seeing the parallels between her life and her character’s. “Up until this season now, we were very much the same,” Emily reflects. “It was so nice to grow with the character and see her false confidence and cockiness turn into a self-loving maturity. It has been a very effortless synchronicity between us.”

After watching her sister’s dream come true, Kate continued to focus on her training and joined the show as an Ultra Elite dancer in season eight. Her time to shine, however, truly arrived when she was offered her first leading role playing Ariana in season nine, a role that was written specifically for her!

“I remember seeing that set for the first time like, ‘Woah, I’m here, this is my turn,” shares Kate, who won a The Next Step Instagram contest as a kid. Now, she feels her time watching the show as a fan and now dancing on the show with her sister is a full-circle moment. “It’s the next generation, passing the torch down, knowing I get to continue this legacy and I get to inspire so many dancers. I wanted to hold myself to that and do the best I could. It’s crazy how life just changed.”

Being on a beloved television show, however, comes with its challenges.

Kate Roman on 'The Next Step. Photo courtesy of Roman.
Kate Roman on ‘The Next Step. Photo courtesy of Roman.

“I was really impressed with Kate this past summer because filming bled into the start of her grade 11 school year,” Emily says. “They had rehearsals, then they shot scenes, then she started doing full-time in-person school. That balance of watching her navigate that and really being successful filming, and she’s still very involved in her school, I was really proud of her. It was a proud older sister moment.”

On top of taking on a new role and a new school year, on top of a full-time competitive dance program, she also started at a new school all together! “It was scary with the social aspect. Am I going to make friends? Are my teachers going to understand [my filming schedule]?” Kate shares. “I would really try to stay focused with my on-set tutor time and pretend I was in school for those hours and not think about the scenes. It was a challenge, but I’m able to do what I love and I’m getting a good education!”

As for Emily, she had to balance filming her scenes with now living in the United States, and attending film school. Although she loves dancing and acting, she is interested in learning more about directing and had the opportunity to shadow The Next Step’s director, Mitchell Ness, for some real-life work experience.

“This past season, I was there for I think almost two weeks,” Emily recalls. “Any days I wasn’t filming, I was shadowing Mitch. I wanted to see what it’s like on an actual set and especially with The Next Step, working all of those cameras and filming all the dance numbers. It was cool for me to do double duty and see both sides of the camera.”

Another challenge was adjusting to being recognized by fans!

“We were touring this new gym we were signing up for, and this guy from across the hall was looking at us,” Kate recalls. “He stood up and said, ‘Presley!’ I’ve never seen Emily more at a loss for words. It was so funny!”

“I did not expect people to associate and know my character,” Emily adds. “So many of our fans are in the UK, though. Neither of us have ever been there. It would be cool to go.”

“The show has the best fans in the world,” Kate says. “They make the craziest edits ever and devote so much time to it. It’s so special to see, and it’s so amazing how great of a fan base they are.”

Kate and Emily on 'The Next Step.'
Kate and Emily on ‘The Next Step.’

What both Emily and Kate felt was the most special and unique part of this season was experiencing it together.

“We have the best sister relationship, and I’m realizing as I’m getting older that’s really rare,” Emily says.

“We have a duet on the show, and even though we have been at the same dance studio for 10 years, we never got the chance to do a duet there,” Kate shares. “That’s something we both always wanted to do. It was so special because now we have that on tape on the show we both grew up watching.”

“We filmed it on our dad’s birthday, so he and our mom came to set to watch us do the duet,” adds Emily. “It was the last scene of the day, so afterwards we took some family pictures on the set together. It was really sweet.”

“It was a proud Roman day,” Kate says with a beaming smile.

By Lauren Harvey of Dance Informa.

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